At the French Open, a so-called night session is held ten evenings during the two-week Grand Slam tournament. So far, the battles in the spotlight have been as follows: On Monday, defending champion Novak Djokovic played against the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka. On Tuesday, fourth in the world rankings Stefanos Tsitsipas against Italian Lorenzo Musetti. Wednesday 13-time tournament winner Rafael Nadal against Frenchman Coretin Moutet. On Thursday, two women gained access to Philippe Chatrier Court for the first time. From the organizer’s point of view, this award also made really good sense.
There was not much to say to send 24-year-old Latvian Jelena Ostapenko to the biggest stage here for another round match. She won the title in Paris five years ago, yes. But other names sell better, with all due respect. That tickets, quotas and trade are at stake can not be denied: Amazon Prime broadcasts the nightly games. Ostapenko, number 13 in the world, played against number 40, which would also have spoken against choosing this duel on this course. But: The number 40 is Alizé Cornet. A French girl.
The game went exactly as the organizers would like to see. The first set was perhaps a little fast, 6: 0 to Cornet. But he aroused enthusiasm. Ostapenko won set two, which was good for a longer fight duration and TV coverage. Cornet won 6: 3 in the third set. At one point, the crowd raged so loudly that Ostapenko laid his hands before his ears in a wonderfully theatrical way. When she shook hands, she barely looked at Cornet, she left the place nervous, while Cornet cheered, “I have goosebumps and almost tears in my eyes.” Also The Team, the mighty daily sports newspaper, welcomed the headline: “Cornet stops the tornado”. This match was again an example of how it works in Roland Garros. It can be said that the French professionals are favored.
On Tuesday, ten French players were split between the three biggest arenas
Now it is in the nature of things that in the four Grand Slams held each year, each host does the best they can for their own countrymen. They do it no differently in Melbourne, Wimbledon and New York. And then the FFT, the Fédération Française de Tennis, does not miss the opportunity to strengthen its own players. It starts already before the French Open. Six wildcards each, free starting spots for the main field, went to the French. In the qualification, 18 wildcards were given to representatives of their own association. In Berlin, at the WTA women’s tournament, Sabine Lisicki, Wimbledon finalist in 2013, had to fight for a wild card to qualify for the tournament in June. FFT does everything to help its players, because the tournament means it above all: As many as possible must enjoy the home advantage and support and gain experience in front of a large audience, which works really well in practice.
On Tuesday, for example, there were ten French players in the three largest arenas. Cornet gained access to Center Court for the first time. The old warriors Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon let themselves be driven to victory at Court Suzanne Lenglen and Court Simonne Mathieu. The busy Hugo Gaston, who kept making stops, probably would not have reached the third lap if the spectators had not carried him away to Suzanne Lenglen. After his exciting victory against world number 19. Alex de Minaur from Australia asked Gaston, number 74, on the field that everyone should sing a birthday song for his girlfriend. Of course everyone sang.
Moutet had a fantastic match on the same court, beating former Paris champion Stan Wawrinka. Diane Parry also surpassed herself and beat defending champion Barbora Krejikova from the Czech Republic out on Court Philippe Chatrier. While a spectacular men’s duel like the one between the Canadian Denis Shapovalov and the young Dane Holger Rune, who shoots up through the ceiling, was pushed into the small lane 12 and the cows backed up, Tessah played Andrianjafitrimo, number 141 at. same time Hof Simonne Mathieu.
Of course, there is never complete justice when it comes to Grand Slam appointments, which is why they are often the subject of debate. In addition, the FFT must be protected. Your own players fill the stadiums to the brim. And they take these liberties because they are allowed to do so, there are no rules for appointments except unwritten ones. Nadal and Djokovic – including Roger Federer when he was there – play only once at Court Suzanne Lenglen, otherwise only at Court Philippe Chatrier. In addition, all the decisions of the new tournament director Amélie Mauresmo are not wrong. Some French players deserve nothing more than to be praised in the arenas.
French men’s tennis in particular is facing a turning point. For 15 years, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gasquet, Simon and Gaël Monfil’s carried the nation’s hope, they had great careers, even without the long-awaited Grand Slam victory, they won the Davis Cup after all. Tsonga, 37, resigned, his last match against Norwegian Casper Ruud was a party at the main stadium, Marseillaise was sung, tears flowed as family and companions arrived on the pitch, and Federer congratulated Tsonga via video message.
Simon, 37, is retiring at the end of the season, also he made it clear what factor the framework in Paris is for him as a Frenchman. On Tuesday, he played against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta until after midnight, and after 6: 4 in the fifth set, he said he had won for the spectators who had cheered on him so late. When he then also won over American Steve Johnson at Court Philippe Chatrier, he said: “When I felt I had no more energy in the end, I used the audience.”